We have all had disappointments and losses. Many of us have experienced abandonment and betrayal. We absorb many of these painful experiences, learn something and move on. Sometimes however, hurts stick to us. The bad experience becomes a reference point for what we can expect from other people, from ourselves and from life itself. We find it very difficult to trust and to start out in neutral with new people. It makes building and maintaining a love relationship especially hard. If you have experienced childhood neglect and/or childhood abuse, the traumatic effect is highly magnified. You are a survivor, but may not be thriving. We are wired to learn from our parents. If what you learned is that no one can be trusted and that everyone will hurt you, you are loaded down with baggage. Childhood baggage will really hamper you in building relationships and achieving peace of mind. Sometimes it can be hard to connect what happened back then with what is going wrong now. This is often the case with sexual abuse.
Baggage is present when your reactions in the present are too controlled by past pain. It is when you can’t get into neutral with the people in your present life. If you are carrying baggage from the past that is weighing you down, it is possible for you to learn how to sort out what doesn’t serve you and leave it behind. If you can be easily triggered into an excessive reaction, this could be a clue that you have not left behind your past. If you can’t defend yourself or if you do overkill to defend yourself, this is another clue. Trauma that happened early in life can be hard to get a handle on because the survivor had not yet learned words and language when it happened. Discarding this baggage can require some skilled help from a psychotherapist who really understands wounds. An important point is that getting over childhood abuse or childhood neglect is not about trashing your parents. It is simply taking an accurate inventory of how you got where you are. No matter what happened in your past, no one but you can clean it up now. You can learn to let go, but not until you really understand what happened. Until you truly understand it, you are likely to confuse what happened to you with who you are.
Really getting over it – Some people in your life may tell you to ” Just get over it.” They get impatient that you can’t just move on. They don’t see blood coming from your body, so they assume that your wounds are somehow not that substantial. They are under the illusion that time heals all wounds. Time does not heal wounds. Time gives us an opportunity to heal our wounds. If we do not process what has happened to us then time just scars over wounds. The past keeps creeping into the present. Really getting over it means coming to grips with it. One of the most powerful tools to really get over it is to retell your story the way it should be, as heroic survivor instead of as victim. Really getting over it returns you to an experience of dignity and safety. EMDR is one of a number of powerful tools I have to help relieve you of your baggage and really get over it.
For more on this, please see the section on EMDR For Trauma Recovery.